Influence is Much More than a Klout Score

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“The very man who has argued you down, will be sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said.” — C.S. Lewis

Over the last few years, people have been measuring their influence on-line by using tools such as Klout ( , TweetLevel, Twitter Analyzer, and PeerIndex (, amongst other popular applications and services.

From a pure measurement and analytic perspective these tools can certainly help people instantly measure their on-line popularity, engagement, and trust with their audience.

According to Klout, the most popular standard of measurement influence on-line, my score on Twitter is a respectable 54. They define me as a specialist. Klout states that I “may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly engaged audience.”

Another one of my favorites is TweetLevel, a tool developed by an AR colleague of mine, Jonny Bentwood (!/JonnyBentwood).  This beta tool  helps “understand and quantify the varying importance of different people’s usage of Twitter.”

This leads me to my central question:  do on-line influence and measurement tools singularly define your true influence on Twitter?  Case in point: I have seen people amass thousands of friends on Facebook and connections on LinkedIn.  Does this “social media collector” exercise make these types of people instant influential rock stars? Are they truly engaging with their social community to move their trust index up NOT just their popularity.

I’m here to state that to be truly influential in your social media community you need to arm yourself with an arsenal of techniques and engagement methods to connect and greatly effect your audience.

Here are some of the popular methods I use and recommend as ways to influence and connect with your audience:

1) Connect, connect, connect.   Social media is just one technique to effect your audience and have them hang onto your every word.  IRL or “In Real Life” conversations take your relationship with someone — be it personal or professional — to the next level.  In my experience, people tend to hide behind a contrived persona on social media.  IRL their true self comes out and your audience truly appreciates that.

In my job, which coincidentally is an influencer marketing role, I use a three-pronged method of influence — social media engagement, phone/E-mail engagement and IRL face-to-face conversations and interactions during road tours, trade shows, and on-site visits.

Why is this important?  It helps me enhance my relationships with my community by developing a “deeper” level of trust, respect and friendship.

2) Listen, Listen and Listen Some More. How often do you find yourself “talking at” people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other social media channel?  Everyone thinks their invincible on the Internet but nobody wants to engage with a super egomaniac.  Nevertheless, you probably want to crow about your company’s success and accomplishments through the social media airwaves.

But do you go out of your way to publish or re-tweet a post from someone you are following on Twitter or a key connection on LinkedIn?

In my job, I’m constantly monitoring and listening to conversations to find out where the technology industry is going.   More often than not, I influence key relationships by sending key contacts Twitter Direct Messages, then setting up phone and face-to-face meetings later on.

3) Don’t Try to Be Mr. or Mrs.  Popular.   Influence is NOT a popularity contest.  You are not measured by the number of followers, friends and connections you have.  Influence is the power of what you say and how you interact with your “engaged” audience.

Early on in the social media game I was constantly comparing myself to the celebrities, sports stars and social media advocates who attained a magical number of tens of thousands of followers.   Like Klout said, I’m a specialist in my area and I know how to engage and target my audience with specific hot topics and content.

While I like sports and other hobbies, I’m not going engage my audience with nebulous tweets about these subject areas since I’m specifically not a specialist.  I try to engage my audience on what I know well: social media, analyst relations, public relations, technology, and other marketing-related subjects.

4) Taking Things Personally Will Only Lessen Your Influence.   I have noticed this trend in the social media world running rampant.  For example, someone opens up a Facebook or Twitter account and comments and tweets to the world everything he or she is thinking.  I have been guilty of this philosophy and mantra before.  I used to think the more tweets I composed and sent and the number of times I commented on a Facebook post would spread my influence.  Oh contraire! People want to engage with people who listen, who interact and don’t have a personal agenda at hand.

You may also be asking “how does influence on-the-job affect my company’s brand and image?”  In my specific role of influencer marketing, I’m constantly listening to the opinions and suggestions of analysts and consultants.  Sometimes this feedback is critical and sometimes it’s not music to my company’s ears.

Bottom line: I try to win friends and influence people by helping my internal stakeholders understand why a message and strategy may not be properly aligned to market conditions.  And you know what?  My external audience appreciates that their suggestions and opinions are considered and evaluated.  This is key influencer relations from an inside/out perspective.

Are you going beyond your standard online measurement tools like Klout, TweetLevel, PeerIndex, and Twitter Analyzer to truly influence your target audience — your followers, friends and connections?

I would love to hear your thoughts…


9 responses to “Influence is Much More than a Klout Score

  1. Hey Steve – Nice post. Your 4 items are key essentials to not only being more influential in your network but in helping build your network – and that is what this is really all about. It isn’t about scores or rankings, but about building a trusted network, treating people with respect and winning their confidence in you as a person. You don’t become influential by trying to be influential – it is a byproduct of building a network of trusted friends.


  2. Excellent post! So…do we use these tools or do we forget em?

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  4. Stephen Loudermilk

    Thanks gentlemen! I think we still need these on-line measurement tools but in my opinion we need to do much more to spread our influence like build our “trusted network” as you pointed out.

  5. Stephen,
    great post. Certainly, yesterday, my as measured by tools, influence went down because I was mainly “off-line”. However, my real influence, trust networks and connection went up! How Joe Fernandez asks? (ok, he hasn’t asked yet but I submitted him video evidence here.

    Going #Beyond140 as you recommend is the fastest and best way to build trust and influence that simply will not ever be measured by a ‘tool’. So to answer Taariq’s question. Yeah, use the tools, just don’t be a tool. Get IRL and connect up. 🙂


  6. Hi Steve,

    Interesting post and always enjoy discussions on influence. The concern I have with “influence” measurement is that I think the word has been weakened so we can understand it and builds apps to score it. I mean, can we really measure trust by an RT? Its nonsense.

    You make some great points that influence is more all encompassing and transcends the often highly limiting world of social media where we all see ourselves as far more important that reality would allow us. Pretty sure this “deification” is the by-product of having followers, fans, etc… its gone to our heads.

    It will be interesting to see if tools develop that start map your 4 points in more than just social media such as: Do you write for a publication? Do you attend or speak at conferences? All of which can be found online, measured and scored.

    Great stuff though. I enjoy your thinking.

    Jeff – Sensei

  7. Interesting post – influence has to extend to real-life interactions. The online world can be somewhat insular, and there are various ways to game the system to appear more influential than you really are.

    Still, social media is a wonderful tool to expand your connections, and make them more real-time and (gasp) more personal. For example, after I brief an analyst, I seek them out on LinkedIn and/or Twitter, and connect. That way I can extend off-line to on-line.

    In anyone reading the comments is not attending #ARchat on Twitter (12 noon ET Tuesdays), you really should! Great insights there.

  8. Great insight to the various tools available to analyze and measure your online influence. I like to gauge to see what/where the traction or momentum may stem from. It is still a riddle. To me, its a hobby while I learn all about Social Media. There are so many experts out there that want you to hand over to them, when you can do it yourself, granted perhaps it takes longer. The only suggestion I would make to readers based on what I’ve discovered is that the gimics to attract followers are just that, gimics. Your true influence is based on who you exchange with, the quality, frequency, so on … like anything else, anything worthwhile takes time. I’ve been drawn to @hubspot for my blog and twitter measurement stick along with Klout.
    Thanks again,
    Jeannette (@optioneerJM)

  9. Social media analytical are where the web was 10 years ago. Right now, I believe they are most useful as a feedback mechanism to the user. The mistake is using this data as the sole method of determining ROI. SocialMedia doesn’t work in a vacuum. It’s totally interdependent on other aspects of the marketing mix. Thanks for the piece. Thanks for pointing out that the broadcasters on social media aren’t creating value by collecting the most scalps!

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